Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear God, Don't Answer That Phone

Has the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas lost her marbles? Doing some drunk dialing?

Virgina Thomas left a Saturday morning 7:30 a.m. phone message on the office answering machine of Anita Hill, asking her to apologize and ‘splain her testimony against her husband’s court conformation hearings some 19 years ago. Ms. Hill called the campus police and the message was investigated and confirmed as coming from Ms. Thomas.

Now, of course, the question remains: WTF???

But what’s so interesting to me is that nowhere in the news stories recapping the hearings and the whole amazing he said/ she said controversy, did I hear the name Sylvia Wright. In the book, “Capitol Games,” by Timothy Phelps and Helen Winternitz, Ms. Wright, who, if memory serves, was a television reporter in Florida, and yet another woman with a similar story to tell, had been vetted and were standing by ready to testify that, yeah, Clarence Thomas had made totally inappropriate remarks to them as well. For whatever political or strategic reasons, they were never called. Which was a shame because had they been allowed to testify, the narrative would have been he said/ she saidshe said/she said. Which is a very, very different story.

Instead, these two additional women have fallen down history’s memory hole and even now, when the media’s recapping the history of the hearings, no mention is made of them. That’s how America gets half a story which then becomes “truth.” Yes, “truth” with important parts missing.

Uh-Oh, Better Hide Grandmaw, Again

Remember when Republicans were scaring Americans about “Obamacare?” How the government would soon be dictating treatment and that’d result in Grandmaw getting killed off by “death panels” who decide her treatment was too expensive and they wouldn’t pay for it?

Ah, well, it’s now coming true! Only it isn’t the Government sitting on those panels, it’s the for-profit insurance companies.

The New York Times reports that “UnitedHealthcare plans to announce on Wednesday a one-year project with five oncology practices, offering doctors an additional fee. The new fee is meant to encourage doctors to follow standard treatments rather than opting too often for individualized and unproven courses of therapy, which can include the most expensive drug combinations. By proposing a different type of payment structure, companies hope to lower doctor’s dependence on a system that generates substantial sums for cancer specialists who routinely favor top-of-the line treatment.”

And, “Aetna is now working with about 250 doctors in Texas and says it plans to expand the program next year to include even more cancer specialists in its network. In California, Blue Shield joined with Hill Physicians Medical Group to treat a group of state workers in Sacramento.”

So it begins. The for-profit insurance companies will be setting treatment policies that will financially reward doctors for choosing cheaper cancer care options because the present system we have is simply financially unsustainable.

To date, I haven’t heard a single Republican screaming about Blue Cross killing his grandmaw. Hmmmm, double standard going on here?

In truth, new treatment protocols for all medical issues need a complete overhaul because our present system is simply unsustainable. Worse, we pay more for our healthcare than any “civilized” country and we have worse outcomes. And in large measure that’s because of the way we’ve set our system up – no affordable universal “basic care” to catch problems early-on, followed by often unlimited but scattershot fee-for-service specialists that’s too often disconnected from any coordinated treatment plan which would avoid duplication and would follow proven treatment protocols. All of which leaves us with a bad system that’ll soon totally collapse from the sheer cost.

So whether reform comes from government guidelines and treatment/payment plans or for-profit insurance company guidelines and treatment/payment plans, Grandmaw – and all of us – need to get honest and proactive in making some tough decisions about our health care and how we pay for it.

Two Years of Sheer Fun Ahead

I know a lot of progressives and liberals and Democrats are wringing their hands and shuddering in contemplation of Republicans, including a handful of Tea Pot Crazies, getting elected to Congress. As for me, I can’t wait!

I mean, consider some of the wilder and wackier of the Tea Potters showing up in Congress to demand an end to Social Security and Medicare! Or, even more fun, a whole gaggle of conservatives all declaring “We’re fed up! No more spending!” who will be handed a long list of things to cu, so they start cutting and then the shrieking will start.

It’s one thing to run against wicked tax and spend “gummint” until you realize that “gummint” spending includes a job-generating weapons plant smack dab in the middle of YOUR district. Shut that plant and now you’re a job-killer who hates America and wants the terrorists to win

So far, the Republican party has been the party of NO. That’s easy to do when you’re sidelined. But if you’re in the game, which is very likely come Nov, you can’t sit on the side vetoing or filibustering everything. You’ve got to actually come up with and write bills, with all their attendant devil-in-the-details, then convince the child-like American people – who want free pudding but don’t want to pay for it themselves, and demand that whatever you’re proposing will work immediately and will magically make everything better in a week or less! If it doesn’t, the plan will be declared a failure and you’ll be branded as a socialist who hates America and wants the terrorists to win!

To which I can only say, well good luck to ‘em. Our manufacturing base is gone, shipped off to China so a small handful of Wall Streeters can become gazillionares, we’ve swallowed the mantra that Privatizing everything is Good and the Commons are Bad, so infrastructure investment is now labeled as evil “socialism,” and taxes used to pay for the infrastructure investment are Bad, Bad, Bad, that tax cuts for the rich will trickle down without ballooning the deficit, and that Mexicans and Blacks and Poor People are to blame for all our ills, and if we just get rid of all government regulation we can live happily ever after.

I can’t wait for the show to begin.

It’s True. Zelig LIVES!

Some time ago, when Lt. Gov. Able Maldonado was punching his political ticket and weaseling his way up the Republican hierarchy, every time I picked up the paper there was a picture of the Gov. Aaaahnnold. And stuck to his side, like a remora to a great white shark, a smiling Abel. Just like Zelig, Woody Allen’s film character who seemed to appeared everywhere throughout time and space. Whenever there was a photo-op moment, there was Able, grinning at the camera.

It was kinda creepy, but funny, and I kept thinking, How does he do that!

Well, Zelig’s back. Democrat Gavin Newsom was holding an L.A. campaign rally at a Los Angeles cafĂ© and there, in the back of the room, having a coffee and a muffin, was . . . ABEL!

Yes, Zelig lives!

Be All You Can Be, But Not Right Now, Maybe Later

If you’re gay and are serving in the military or are thinking about joining up, congratulations. You have entered the equivalent of a Zen koan or The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and you’re forgiven if you’re getting tennis-match neck whiplash; Yes, No, Yes, No, Wait, Come Back Later.

DADT is now in limbo, again. So pity poor former Army Lt. Dan Choi, an Iraq war veteran, a West Point graduate, who was tossed out of the army for declaring on Rachel Maddow’s show, that he was gay. During the most recent ban-lifting, when the Army said they were now accepting applications from openly gay recruits, Choi showed up to reinlist in the Army.

What’s not known is what poor Mr. Choi was supposed to put on his application at that point since shortly thereafter the stay was un-stayed some more and once again gay soldiers were told to shut up and Don’t Tell, again, unless they did, in which case, well . . . who knows.

Is this any way to run an Army? Don’t think so.


FOGSWAMP said...

Regarding "drunk dialing".

Well, I guess Professor Anita ain't going to apologize to Ginni anytime soon. Perhaps the message was just trumped up by Liberals, you know the election and all.

I read somewhere that the message said, "Anita, I know it has been nineteen years but it has been bothering me all this time and I have to call you and apologize. It was my pubic hair on the coke can! Clarence knew that. You see, it was our little joke.

I always put something in his lunch, a kind of joke you know, It would be a chocolate kiss or a smiley face, and sometimes to make him laugh and think of me a pubic hair on a Coke can, or in his sandwich.

These are things married folks do sometimes, something I don't think you know about. Anyway, it's been bothering me all these years and I want to say I am sorry.

Ta, Ta, I have to go now. I am late for my Klan meeting. Do stop over some time and have a sandwich and Coke!"

Churadogs said...

Funny. What's not so funny is the whole thing veered away from Thomas qualifications (not the best qualified) and into a circus. His nomination and subsequent performance on the bench indicates how important the Supremes are -- most people think it doesn't much matter who's President but when it comes to court appointments, it really does matter. While presidents may come and go, the laws their Supremes leave behind impact peoples real lives for years.

On the other hand, the event did open up the whole issue of sexual harassment and educated a whole generation of Men Behaving Badly and Women Not Having To Take It Anymore. Which is a good thing.

The real problem here now is the too cozy connection between the Thomas and the corporte/political/Chamber money machine. That cuts into the confidence people can have that their Supremes are both competent and neutral. With Roberts and Alioto and Thomas and Scalia, that's not the case.

Watershed Mark said...